Monday, February 21, 2011

Sierra Club Florida Water Quality Alert

HB 457– Fertilizer
HB 13– Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems
S 168 – Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems

Please call members of both the House Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Senate Health Regulation committees this afternoon or early tomorrow morning and urge them to vote against these bad bills.  Committee contact information is below.  Telephone calls are best, but if you can’t call, please send an email.

HB 457 (Fertilizer) and HB 13 (Septic Tanks) will be heard in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.
SB 168 will be heard in Senate Health Regulation committee on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Fertilizer Preemption:
HB 457Fertilizer by Rep. Ingram

HB 457 is a complete preemption bill that guts water protection ordinances adopted by 40 local governments. 
HB 457:
  • Sets up a weak “model ordinance” as the most a local government can do even though it was written as a minimum standard.  Since the weak model ordinance would apply statewide and no stronger ordinances could be adopted, water quality will inevitably suffer and clean up costs will be shifted to taxpayers.
  • Preempts local ordinances retrospectively by giving the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) all authority over the sale, use, and application of urban turf fertilizer. All 40 local water quality ordinances adopted by officials closest to the people will be abolished.  (DEP, the agency responsible for water quality is cut out of the loop completely.)

Talking points
  • Localities have already adopted more stringent ordinances than the “model ordinance” and water quality has improved in those areas!
  • Lawns are not agriculture.  This is not about food production.  But lawns do contribute to nutrient run off.
  • The cost of removing nitrogen from Tampa Bay through storm water treatment projects ranges from $40,000-$200,000 per ton (according to the treatment method used.) Source control is the best (and cheapest) water protection strategy.
  • Nutrient pollution that damages water quality with algal blooms affects these Florida businesses:
·         Florida tourism is a $65.2 billion annual industry that generated 1,007,000 jobs in 2008   
·         Fresh and saltwater fishing generated $6.1 billion and 52,945 jobs
·         The commercial fishing industry generated $5.6 billion and  108,695 jobs
  • Lawn care companies can still do business under the more stringent ordinances.  They are free to apply iron, magnesium, potassium, compost based fertilizers, etc.  during the summer rainy season.  They can also do pest control and mow, trim topiaries, etc.  These ordinances put no one out of work.
  • The ordinances help Florida businesses. Many Florida fertilizer companies already offer “summer safe” products and Florida companies' products have gone from 2% of the market to between 70 and 90% of the market in areas with summer application bans. 
  • The ordinances do NOT affect the sale of, plant material, potting soil, or feeds

HB 13 by Rep. Coley/S 168 by Sen. Evers
 Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems
(septic tank inspection repeal bill)
These companion bills eliminate the requirement for septic tank inspections every five years and also strike a subsidy to help low income property owners defray the costs of inspection.

The original bill (SB 550) passed last year 76-37 in the House and 34-4 in the Senate. 
Grossly inflated projections of the cost of meeting water quality standards in other areas spilled over to include septic tank inspections which amount to about $122 a year (or 34 cents a day.)  When the new legislature was sworn in, one of the first things it did was to delay the effective date of the septic tank inspection part of 550 so they could weaken or eliminate it during session.

Septic tank inspections are needed because:
  • The Florida Dept. of Health (DOH) estimates the 9.5% of more than 2 million septic tank systems in the state are failing (about 200,000 failing systems.)
  • Inadequate treatment of sewage in septic systems can pollute wells and threaten public health.
  • Failing septic tanks leach nutrients into our groundwater and pollute our springs and streams
  • Older septic tanks were not constructed to current standards.  There needs to be adequate dry soil between the bottom of a drainfield and the highest level reached by the water table.  The recommended distance is 24 inches while Florida accepts 6 inches.  This is too little to allow the aerobic bacteria to finish the job of treating the effluent from the drainfield.

Sen Ever’s bill, SB 168 even removes current language stating:
“It is the intent of the Legislature that proper management of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems is paramount to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.” 
It is hard to believe that proper management of septic systems is not of paramount importance.  The relationship between sanitation and public health is established beyond dispute.

Reasonable Cost:
DOH estimates it will cost homeowners $614 for a pump out and inspection every five years.  These inspections help homeowners by spotting problems before they get out of hand and cost thousands of dollars to repair.  (Replacing a drainfield means digging up the entire area, removing the old drainfield material, bringing in new fill and gravel, laying new drainfield lines, and finishing with new fill and sod.)  Septic tanks should be pumped out every three to five years to keep the entire system working properly whether they are inspected or not. 
Most Floridians are on some form of central sewer and pay far more every month than the inspection program will cost septic system owners.  Why should septic system owners be exempt from responsibility for preventing their sewage from affecting their neighbors and community when everyone else has to do so?

House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee,
(Please call before noon)Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.
Please call to urge ‘No’ votes on
  • HB 457 – Fertilizer
  • HB 13 – Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems

First Name
Last Name
District City
Local Phone
Email Address
Rep.
Jim
Boyd
Bradenton
(850) 488-4086
jim.boyd@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Jason T.
Brodeur
Sanford
(850) 488-0468
jason.brodeur@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Dwight M.
Bullard (D)
Town of Cutler Bay
(850) 488-5430
dwight.bullard@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Rachel
Burgin, Vice Chair
Riverview
(850) 488-9910
rachel.burgin@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Matt
Caldwell
Fort Myers
(850) 488-1541
matt.caldwell@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Steve
Crisafulli, Chair
Merritt Island
(850) 488-4669
steve.crisafulli@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Luis R.
Garcia, Jr. (L)
Miami
(850) 488-9930
luis.garcia@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Rich
Glorioso
Plant City
(850) 488-0807
rich.glorioso@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Tom
Goodson
Titusville
(850) 488-3006
tom.goodson@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Steven M. ''Steve''
Perman
Boca Raton
(850) 488-5588
steve.perman@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Ray
Pilon
Sarasota
(850) 488-7754
ray.pilon@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Elizabeth W.
Porter
Lake City
(850) 488-9835
elizabeth.porter@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Michelle
Rehwinkel Vasilinda, Ranking Member
Tallahassee
(850) 488-0965
michelle.rehwinkel@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Franklin
Sands
Plantation
(850) 488-0590
franklin.sands@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep.
Jimmie T.
Smith (J)
Lecanto
(850) 488-0805
jimmie.smith@myfloridahouse.gov



Senate Health Regulation Committee –
(Please call Monday)Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

Please call to urge ‘No’ vote on SB 168 - Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems


First Name
Last Name
District City
Local Phone
Email Address
Sen.
Thad
Altman
Melbourne
(850) 487-5053
altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Michael
Bennett
Bradenton
(850) 487-5078
bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Miguel
Diaz de la Portilla
Miami
(850) 487-5109
portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Mike
Fasano
New Port Richey
(850) 487-5062
fasano.mike.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Don
Gaetz
Destin
(850) 487-5009
gaetz.don.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Rene
Garcia, Chair
Hialeah
(850) 487-5106
garcia.rene.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Andy
Gardiner
Orlando
(850) 487-5047
gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Dennis
Jones
Seminole
(850) 487-5065
jones.dennis.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Jack
Latvala
St. Petersburg
(850) 487-5075
latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Jim
Norman
Tampa
(850) 487-5068
norman.jim.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Jeremy
Ring
Margate
(850) 487-5094
ring.jeremy.web@flsenate.gov
Sen.
Eleanor
Sobel, V. Chair
Hollywood
(850) 487-5097
sobel.eleanor.web@flsenate.gov


David Cullen, Sierra Club Florida lobbyist